The hospitality industry has yet another reason to fear the rise of Airbnb. The company is reportedly launching a new premium tier in a bid to lure more luxury travellers away from high-end hotels. Anonymous sources told Bloomberg the service could debut as early as this week.
A select group of hosts will test a beta version of the service before a full rollout later this year. To qualify, the hosts and their homes must pass a detailed inspection. Airbnb will be looking for details that replicate the guest experience at luxury hotels – think new and matching bed linens, plush towels, single-use toiletries, working appliances, and kitchens stocked with basics like bottled water, coffee, and tea.
Those who pass the inspection will be featured in a special section of Airbnb’s website and app (internally referred to as “Select” but not yet given an official name). Bloomberg reports that a screenshot of a website Airbnb plans to send to a select group of hosts who are eligible for the premium service has surfaced.
“Congrats!” it reads. “Your reviews for high consistent quality have qualified you for a special pilot program.”
The page notes that hosts will receive “priority placement in a new section for premium places,” will be offered a professional photographer to take pictures of their home, and will get access other free perks like “a consultation with an Airbnb-provided interior decorator.”
Airbnb hopes that by encouraging hosts to behave more like hoteliers, they’ll attract higher-paying travellers who typically skip home stays in favour of the amenities provided by traditional high-end accommodations. These users represent a potentially lucrative new revenue source for a company that is more often associated with cost-cutting Millennials.
Airbnb has yet to offer an official comment.